Coffee Beans For Long-Term Storage

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter

Did you know that storing your coffee beans can affect how your brewed coffee tastes? If you decide to indulge in an expensive bag of coffee beans, you had best be sure you know how to store them to get the best-tasting coffee in every brew. By taking the proper steps, you can rest assured that even over the long term, your coffee beans will still create fresh, tasty cups of coffee. So how do you keep coffee beans clean for long-term storage?

How to Store Coffee Beans Long-Term

If you want to store coffee long-term, you’ll need to protect it from oxygen, light, moisture, and heat. Here are some of the best ways to keep coffee so it lasts years or even decades.

Option 1: Freezer

Coffee has very little moisture in it. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about it getting freezer burned. It will stay fresh for years in the freezer.

One potential issue about storing coffee in the freezer is that it can absorb smells from other items.  For example, if you keep your coffee next to leftover steaks, the coffee can have a funky aroma.

To prevent this, store coffee in sealed non-permeable bags (won’t let gasses through).  Some coffee already comes in these bags (the metal-looking bags) and can go straight in the freezer.  Once you remove the coffee beans from the freezer, let them get to room temperature before opening.  Otherwise, they will absorb humidity and start to go wrong.

Option 2: Air-Tight Containers

Once you’ve opened a bag of coffee, put it in air-tight containers.  This isn’t the ideal solution for coffee. Because there will still be oxygen in the container. However, it will help slow down the oxidation and gassing-off process.  If you have many coffee beans, you could even store them in buckets with gamma lids.

Option 3: Vacuum Sealing

Good-quality coffee comes in vacuum-sealed packaging. This packaging helps protect against oxidation.  You can also vacuum seal bulk coffee beans or open packages of coffee to keep it fresh.

Note that coffee beans and grounds have air inside of them.  Vacuum sealing will only remove air around the coffee. Home vacuum sealer bags are also semi-porous and will eventually allow coffee aromas to escape.  So, while this is a better method than storing coffee in opened packages, the coffee will still go stale after a couple of years.

Option 4: Nitrogen-Flushed Coffee

Nitrogen flushing is a method of removing oxygen from coffee packaging. Very good-quality brands of coffee using this method.  It is done immediately after roasting the coffee, so the coffee is stored at its maximum freshness.

Because coffee beans “gas off” after roasting (air from inside the beans moves outwards), nitrogen-flushed bags would explode if left to sit long enough.  To prevent this, manufacturers will put a one-way valve on the bags to let the gases escape.  By comparison, vacuum-sealed coffee is usually packaged after the beans have had a chance to gas off; no valve is required, but the beans aren’t as fresh when packaged.

By choosing nitrogen-flushed coffee (look for the one-way valve on the bag), you’ll get a fresher product that will store longer.

Option 5: Oxygen Absorbers

Oxygen absorbers are little packets of iron.  The iron grabs oxygen molecules.  If you put oxygen absorber packets in an air-tight container with coffee, the packets will remove virtually all oxygen and keep the coffee fresh.   Read more about oxygen absorbers for food storage here.

Option 6: Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers

The best long-term storage method for coffee is sealed Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.  Mylar is a metallic-looking material that is impervious to gases.  When you put an oxygen absorber into a bag and seal it, the coffee is protected from oxygen, humidity, and light.  Instant coffee can last for 25+ years this way.

If you want to store coffee beans in Mylar, there’s an important caveat: they must be unroasted green coffee beans. This is because the roasting process causes the natural oils in the coffee to start breaking down.  By contrast, green coffee beans won’t deteriorate and can last 20+ years in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Why Store Coffee Beans Long-Term?

Health

Drinking small amounts of coffee does have some overall health benefits. But it is also important to remember the effects of caffeine withdrawal from heavy coffee drinkers.

These can include blinding headaches and extreme irritability. Not a good combination in an already stressful situation.

Bartering

Coffee is one of those comfort, social drinks. You ask a friend out for a cup of coffee, or you may offer them the same when family visits. During times of hardship, coffee will be challenging to come by.

Having some coffee stockpiled away could help trading for something you need or offering someone a nicety.

Why is Storing Coffee Difficult?

Compared to other survival foods such as rice, storing coffee presents unique challenges to preppers. Coffee is susceptible to moisture, air, heat, and even light. It also absorbs smells from its environment, which can ruin coffee stored next to smelly items such as onions.

Coffee beans should be stored in airtight containers to maintain freshness. These airtight containers should be stored in a cool, dark place.

If you are storing green coffee beans, even if you aren’t going to put them into mylar bags, do not roast them until you are ready to consume them. Burning them will rapidly increase the rate at which the coffee loses its freshness. Grinding the roasted beans will accelerate this process even more.

How Long Can You Expect Coffee to Last?

You probably want to answer this question, so I’ll hit on this first. Coffee lasts different lengths depending on how well it’s stored and what form it’s in.

If you follow the recommendations below, you can expect your coffee to last toward the longer end of the times given. If you don’t take all of the precautions, you’ll probably get less shelf life out of your coffee.

A good rule of thumb for coffee storage times is 3-5 months for ground coffee at room temp and 1-2 tears in the freezer. Whole bean coffee is good for 6-9 months at room temp and 2-3 years in the freezer, and instant coffee can go as long as 20 years as long as it’s stored in a sealed can in a cool place.

These times don’t give you the best flavour (which I geek out on pretty hard later on), but you’ll have coffee in the event of a disaster, and that can really help you feel normal in an otherwise abnormal and challenging time!

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